Rental property is getting so scarce scammers have found it a worthwhile market.
That warning comes from the Saskatchewan watchdog which tracks financial fraud. It has advised renters to be extra cautious when looking for a place to rent because scammers are advertising fake properties.
Shortages usually trigger price increases, forcing many in the rental market looking for alternate accommodations. Then, add in the fastest population growth in more than a century and you have fertile ground for con artists who thrive in periods of uncertainty.
The provincial Financial and Consumer Affairs Agency says make-believe landlords are advertising properties that don’t exist or they don’t own in hopes of convincing prospective tenants to sign worthless leases and make cash deposits that quickly disappear.
In a world where a growing percentage of the population is comfortable dealing online, the agency advises a first-line of defense is to meet the landlord in person. Fraudsters – who probably don’t even live in the province – are unlikely to show up for a face-to-face, which is the primary red flag indicating something is not right.